Notes: Bucs make round of roster cuts
Davis, Morgan among 11 sent to Minor League camp
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pittsburgh made a series of moves in camp Monday, effectively trimming its roster to 48.
Among those reassigned was Nyjer Morgan, the talented outfielder who's hitting .291 (431-for-1,481) in his four-year Minor League career, and has stolen 164 bases. Morgan, 26, is on the 40-man roster and was optioned to Double-A Altoona, but he didn't see returning to the team where he ended last season as a setback.
"I've always been flying under the radar," he said. "I just wanted to come here and show what I can do, and bring a little bit of excitement to this team. That's my game.
"There's nothing to be disappointed about ... this is a learning experience."
Pitchers Romulo Sanchez, David Davidson and Josh Shortslef, as well as infielder Javier Guzman were also optioned to Altoona, and outfielder Rajai Davis was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Pitchers Franquelis Osoria and Allan Simpson, catcher Carlos Maldonado, infielder Eddy Garabito and outfielder Vic Buttler were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Shortslef, an eight-year veteran of the Minors, said he picked up a lot during the past month.
"The atmosphere is great," he said. "This definitely opened up my eyes and made me work a little bit harder ... a lot of the small things that usually guys don't do, but you definitely do them because you see these [Major Leaguers] taking care of their bodies the way they're supposed to."
General manager Dave Littlefield said the decisions were made, in general, to whittle down the roster to a more manageable number.
"We felt [this group] needed more time in the Minor Leagues ... to refine their skills and their performance," he said.
There are now 23 pitchers, four catchers, 13 infielders and eight outfielders remaining in big-league camp, a number that includes 18 non-roster players. Pittsburgh will break camp at the end of March with 25.
Pitching power: Six Pirates pitchers combined for a three-hitter and limited Cleveland to one run during a 6-1 win Monday. Tony Armas Jr. led the way, surrendering just one hit -- a solo home run off the bat of Ryan Garko.
Armas is widely considered to be the best fit for the fifth starting spot in the rotation, and shone again in his third outing. He faced just two batters over the minimum during his first win of the preseason and now holds a 2.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.
"He's throwing a lot of good-quality strikes," said Pirates manager Jim Tracy. "And he's pitching ahead in the count, which I think is something that was very evident today with every guy that was out there."
Plate progress report: With Monday's 12-hit affair, Pittsburgh now has banged out 10 or more hits in nine consecutive games. Tracy deferred all compliments to hitting coach Jeff Manto, who he said has made great strides during the last year in regards to both settling in and earning the players' trust.
"[Manto] was together with this club for the first time last year," Tracy said. "What we've seen this spring is overall better plate discipline, overall better approach and a much better sense of awareness with situational at-bats. We, a year ago, were not good enough at that. We're heading in the direction we need to go in."
In his first year as Pirates hitting coach, Manto helped to improve the team's average by four points. As of Tuesday, Pittsburgh is hitting .292 in spring ball, fourth-best in the Grapefruit League.
Feelin' fine: Jason Bay had an outstanding running catch to end the first inning Monday. It was the left fielder's second game back in the field since a November knee surgery, and he showed no hampered movement while running full-tilt with an outstretched glove toward center to rob Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach of a hit.
Change of plans: Shane Youman was scheduled to pitch Monday, but simply worked out instead after a conversation with pitching coach Jim Colborn, who said he wanted the left-hander on a five-day throwing program. Youman instead will pitch Tuesday at Pirate City during a Minor League game, while those in Pirates Major League camp have the day off.
He said it: "It's a good thing the guy got a glove on it, or [the defender] would've had a very sore ankle." --Tracy, on catcher Ronnie Paulino's hard hit that resulted in the first inning's second out
Up next: The Pirates enjoy their lone day off Tuesday before heading to Fort Myers on Wednesday to take on the Red Sox. Zach Duke (0-1, 4.00 ERA) will make his fourth start for Pittsburgh, and will be followed by Ian Snell, John Grabow and Kevin Gryboski. Left-hander Kason Gabbard is scheduled to throw for Boston. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.